The Passionate Attachment

America's entanglement with Israel

How the Israel lobby’s anti-Beijing startup now aids Syria’s rebels

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
June 15, 2012

In an article entitled “Hillary’s Little Startup: How the U.S. Is Using Technology to Aid Syria’s Rebels,” TIME Magazine reports that the Obama Administration has been providing media-technology training and support to Syrian dissidents through proxies such as the Institute for War & Peace Reporting and Freedom House. The title is a little misleading though. As the article reveals, it wasn’t Hillary Clinton that started it:

The program actually began four years ago with a different target: China. In 2008, Michael Horowitz, a longtime religious-liberty advocate, went to his friend Representative Frank Wolf, a Virginia Republican, and suggested setting aside funds to help Falun Gong, a religious group that Beijing has labeled a dangerous cult. The money was supposed to help the dissidents distribute software to jump China’s massive firewall and organize online as well as communicate freely with the outside world. Wolf succeeded in appropriating $15 million. But U.S. diplomats feared the move would derail relations with Beijing, and little money was spent. Then the 2009–10 Iranian protests and last year’s Arab Spring made Internet freedom a much more fashionable term in Washington. Congress soon forked over an additional $57 million to State to spend in the next three years. The money is split among three areas: education and training; anonymization, which masks users’ identities, usually through encryption; and circumvention technology, which allows users to overcome government censors so that their work—and that of repressive regimes—can be seen worldwide.

The destabilization program’s originators are hardly disappointed to see it now targeting one of Israel’s enemies. Michael Horowitz is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a neoconservative think tank with close ties to the Israeli right, from whence he mobilizes evangelical Christians on behalf of interventionist causes. His friend in Congress, Frank Wolf, can also be relied upon to advance the Jewish state’s interests, such as he did when he helped block the appointment of Chas Freeman to head the National Intelligence Council while denying that the lobby had anything to do with it.

As the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army continues to plunge Syria into chaos, the Israelis are no doubt pleased with the results of Horowitz and Wolf’s little startup.

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Written by Maidhc Ó Cathail

June 14, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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